Why, why on earth would I be telling you folks something about coleslaw right now? I mean, it's the day before Thanksgiving, it's cold outside, we're all running around like chickens with our heads cut off, in disbelief that we actually need to buy 4 more sticks of butter, another pound of potatoes and 2 last cans of pureed pumpkin, and besides, what in God's name do I have to say about coleslaw when I'm, like, the president and secretary-treasurer of the Mayonnaise Hater's Alliance?
Here's the thing: as much as I dislike mayo, I love, luuuurve, coleslaw. I guess I should say that I love cabbage. Like a good little German girl, really. Punctual, orderly, and a cabbage fiend, yes, that sounds about right. Stuffed, braised, shredded, pickled, sauteed, spicy - I'm quickly realizing that cabbage may be the world's most perfect vegetable. It's crisp and refreshing in summer, warm and hearty in winter. It's easy enough to be a 15-minute dinner along with some bread and cheese and fancy enough to be a reliable star on holiday tables. I mean, seriously, cabbage! You need a crown and a scepter - I'm crowning you the Queen of Vegetables.
But wasn't I talking about something else? Oh right, coleslaw. Tasty, but preferably without the goop and slime of mayo. Since I adore cabbage and I also love applesauce and mustard seeds, my ears pricked up right quick when I saw Jeremy Fox's contribution to the article Kim Severson wrote last week about Thanksgiving sides. His slaw recipe has you slice up some cabbage, shred some radishes and a Granny Smith or two, then toss all that with an apple-cider vinaigrette that's spiked with mustard and applesauce. To gild the lily, Jeremy throws in a few mustard seeds and some toasted walnuts.
I am a bit of a scatterbrain, so I forgot about the mustard seeds and the walnuts (even though they were right there in my kitchen - is this Thanksgiving brain?) and still, this was delicious. Cool and crisp and tangy and sort of sweetish, but not too sweet (I used less apples than called for): suddenly it dawned on me. This salad was coleslaw without the mayonnaise! Holy Grail, found.
It kept relatively well in the fridge overnight, requiring just another quick glug of olive oil to perk it up again the next day, when I also threw in the mustard seeds. Better late than never. They were lovely, of course, because cabbage and mustard seeds are soul mates and meant to be together, like Romeo and Juliet, Beatrice and Benedict, peas and pods, oh, stop me right now.
I think you need hot vegetables on the Thanksgiving table, but cold ones are perfect for the many turkey-related meals that follow. Turkey salad on sandwiches, turkey pot-pie, turkey quesadillas, whatever, however, this slaw will keep the leftovers in very good company indeed.
And with that, I'm off. To make more cabbage, of course! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Savoy Cabbage Slaw with Applesauce Vinaigrette and Mustard Seeds
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon applesauce
1/3 cup olive oil
FOR THE SALAD:
4 cups savoy cabbage, sliced as thinly as possible
1 large bunch red radishes
1 Granny Smith apple
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Make vinaigrette: In a bowl, mix together mustard, salt, vinegar and applesauce. Slowly whisk in olive oil a little at a time until dressing emulsifies. Set aside.
2. Make salad: Put cabbage in a large bowl. Using the shredding blade of a food processor or a box grater, shred radishes until you have 1 cup. Add to bowl.
3. Core apples and shred in food processor or with box grater until you have 2 cups. Put shredded apple into a bowl filled with lemon juice and 2 cups water, to prevent apple from browning.
4. When ready to serve, gently squeeze water from apple, add to cabbage and toss slaw with vinaigrette. Add mustard seeds and toss again. Sprinkle walnuts on top of slaw. Season with salt and pepper.